WESTVILLE | Certain students in grades 7 through 12 at Westville School will be subject to random drug testing.
Curtiss Strietelmeier, superintendent of the Metropolitan School District of New Durham Township, said student athletes and students driving to school will be chosen at random for the testing, which could start as soon as January or the fall of 2014.
He said nothing specific triggered the desire to test students.
Other schools in the Porter County Conference with Westville have a drug testing policy and officials here thought it might be best to follow suit, he said.
Strietelmeier said the idea is not to punish students.
Instead, it's to find the ones who might need help and offer assistance through an in-house school counselor or social worker.
Since the school cannot provide outside treatment, Strietelmeier said professional help from the outside would be one of the options known to parents of students who test positive.
"We can offer support that way," he said.
Testing was also viewed as a way for students to resist peer pressure by not taking the chance at losing their spot on the athletic team or driving privileges to school.
"We felt it would help our kids in a lot of different ways," said Strietelmeier.
The policy is still being developed for the board to give final approval, perhaps, in December.
Right now, though, Strietelmeier said "roughly three to four" students a month will be chosen by a third party vendor at random for drug testing and any positive results will likely result in suspension from athletics.
He said punishment for drivers and any student who would test positive a second time hasn't yet been decided.
"I'm not looking to expel the kid. I'm not looking to suspend the kid. I'm not looking to put the kid on detention. I'm just looking at saying what can we do to help this child," said Strietelmeier.